Stanley “Tookie” Williams Faces Execution This Year If Clemency Not Granted

October 11, 2005

SUPREME COURT SAYS RACIAL BIAS IN JURY SELECTION NOT GROUNDS FOR APPEAL

On October 11th, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Stanley “Tookie” Williams’ appeal to investigate the racism and discrimination at the heart of the case, as well as Tookie’s innocence issues. The prosecutor in Tookie’s original case removed all of the Black jurors from the jury, leaving an all-white jury to deliberate the case. During the trial, this prosecutor made racially-coded remarks during his closing argument, comparing Williams to a Bengal tiger in a zoo, and stating that a black community – South Central Los Angeles – was equivalent to the natural “habitat” of a Bengal Tiger.

The Supreme Court’s refusal to investigate racism in this case establishes as “case law” for the nation the right for prosecutors to exclude jurors on the basis of race and to denigrate minority defendants in front of all-white juries. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals posited in 2002 that Tookie’s prison writings, in which he renounces his former life as a gangster, could be grounds for the California governor to grant him clemency. If he is not granted clemency, he will be executed on December 13th.

Campaign to End the Death Penalty is sponsoring a “Voices from Death Row” speaking tour. It includes Tookie’s friend and advocate, Barbara Becnel, and there were events in San Francisco and Berkeley on October 11th. The Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarians will be screening the movie “Redemption”, which is about Tookie’s life, on Friday, October 21st, at 7:00 pm, at 1924 Cedar St. at Bonita Ave. in Berkeley.

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